Mindfulness in Law
This edition of Assist In Your Community focuses on ‘mindfulness,’ or mindful awareness.
Mindfulness is being aware yet removed from our thoughts, emotions, and sensations. With roots in Buddhism, the practice has been successful in reducing negative reactions to sensitive situations and has gained prominence in workplaces and law curriculum. Closely related to meditation, mindful awareness is the concept of being in the present with your thoughts and adopting another person’s perspective, all while not being affected by it. Being mindful allows us to comprehend conflict and react accordingly to it in our work and personal lives. In turn, practicing mindfulness is said to help reduce anxiety and stress that often come with the territory of practicing law.
Mindfulness encourages non-judgmental thought processing and creates a harmonious workplace, increases productivity, and gives way to ethical decision-making. Overall, it enables law professionals to prioritize tasks and potential conflict by incorporating unbiased and neutral thought processing into all facets of their lives.
Here are some approaches to becoming more mindful:
Start small; be mindful in everyday things that you enjoy doing like reading the newspaper or listening to music on your way to work.
Try a yoga class in your community; yoga is said to enhance our physical and mental well-being by reminding us to focus on the present.
Designate a quiet space in your workplace for meditation and peaceful reflection.
Encourage a scheduled meditation or quiet time at work, so that mindfulness is fit into each day.
Download the Bloom smartphone app to encourage creativity and inspiration throughout your day.
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By Dana Schindelka, Chair of Assist & Vice-Chair of the Legal Profession Assistance Conference
Reprinted with permission from Slaw
"Having spent the better part of my life trying either to relive the past or experience the future before it arrives, I have come to believe that in between these two extremes is peace."
– Author Unknown.
If your legal practice or life are anything like mine, you have too many things you need to do and too little time to get them done. I often wake in the morning and think of what I need to get done at work that day. Frequently, at the end of the day I realize that I only accomplished a portion of what I wanted to achieve and in the meantime, a number of other pressing matters have been added to the list. Some time ago, I realized that when I was working long hours I thought about taking some time off. Ironically, when I was on vacation, I was thinking about my clients and the work that was accumulating and would be waiting for me upon my return. Many people in this day and age take phone calls, or review texts or emails while they are in a meeting, visiting a friend, spending time with family or are engaged in an activity that is supposed to be enjoyable such as a meal, sporting event, concert, or show. I realized that I was actually only partially present in some of my telephone and in-person conversations. In addition to being impolite, this was not acceptable to me on a number of levels.
This led me to try and make some changes. I am leaving my smartphone in the car when I go for dinner with a friend. I am also not dwelling on the past and am worrying about the future less (alright, I’m trying; it’s a work in progress). In short, I’m now trying to live in the moment and give each person I encounter my full and undivided attention.
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